When It’s Worth It To Hire an Interim VP of Sales

We’ve talked a lot on SaaStr about the damage a bad VP of Sales can do.  They often make things much worse than things were before — and burn a year and half of your capital doing it.  It’s always better to have no VP of Sales than a bad VP of Sales.  More on that, and the line between Great, Good and Bad here:

But what if you are struggling to just find a Good/Great VP of Sales … should you hire an Interim one?  These days, with more and more SaaS veterans out there, many aren’t quite ready to go truly full-time again, not just yet at least.  But they are OK doing an interim role for 3-6-9 months.

But should you hire an interim VP of Sales?  Or just put all your energy into finding a long-term hire?  Interim, of course, is never really as good as 100% full-time, 100% dedicated, 100% all-in.  And we often defocus a bit from a full-time hire when we have an interim hire in place.

I think the answer is yes, sometimes.

A good interim, seasoned, proven VP of Sales:

  • Will help you focus.  They’ll spend their time on what moves the needle in sales, and help the whole org focus here.  They’ll spend their time on the core of what helps you hit the plan.  And not spend any time on things that don’t really matter that much.  This will help everyone focus on hitting the plan.  You’ll be a bit frustrated that an interim VP of Sales maybe won’t do as many things as a full-time one would.  But they’ll invest their limited time in what they think really matters.
  • Will upgrade your processes, at least 1-2 key parts.  They’ll fix the scripts, fix the lead routing, fix the playbook, fix pricing, drive deal sizes up, drive urgency up.  They won’t do as much as a permanent hire will.  But the good interim VPs of Sales always pick a few parts of the sales processes that are lacking and that are easy for them to fix — and just upgrade them.  That often boosts sales 10%-30% right there.
  • Will hire at least 1 or 2 great reps.  This is really almost enough to justify the interim VP of Sales right there.  If they can help you hire just a few great folks to the team, that’s more than worth it.  And a real interim VP of Sales knows hiring is 50% of the job.
  • Will help you find the permanent VP of Sales.  They don’t always do as much here as you’d hope, but just helping alone is worth it.  Helping you screen and pitch candidates.  And hopefully, bringing in at least a few good ones.

Now, only the truly strong interim VPs of Sales can do all 5 points above.  So review the scope of work here with a potential candiate, and make sure you believe they can do it for real.

But if they can pull that alone off, it’s enough.  Enough until you find the long-term VP of Sales you need.

Published on December 1, 2020

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